The link between connectivity of various sorts and social change is something that’s almost bound to interest me, given that I’ve spent over a decade of my life thinking about how the internet changes the way we communicate with each other. And so I took myself off to the RSA House in London to hear Parag Kahnna speak on the idea that connectivity is destiny – our layers of connection with one another are more important to the future than traditional political boundaries. Here’s what I took away from the talk:
The trigger for Parag’s talk is – perhaps inevitably – a new book. Connectography is a “new approach to cartography” – maps as art, sure, but also mapping global connectivity.
Maps, the world’s oldest infographics are misleading – they are political, and depict how we divide ourselves legally, not how e connect as people. We’re familiar with maps of geography, and political maps. What we don’t have is maps of functional geography.
There are, broadly, three main categories of connectivity:
In human body terms, these are equivalent to the:
- Vascular system
- Nervous system
The book is, by its nature, static, so there’s an online data set you can explore. It’s a map of how we are reshaping the world.
Our ratios of infrastructure spending to military spending is growing rapidly in infrastructure’s favour – especially in Asia. The city is our most fundamental and long-standing human unit, and then connectivity is next. Our mega-inforstructures will outlive many countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East. We know how long countries last – and railroads and other forms of connectivity often outlive them.
This means we’re moving towards a supply chain world. (more…)
Time to start panicking:
Researchers at Kew believe that the wild arabica coffee bean, whose cultivated cousin is the basis of most of the coffee drunk around the world, could die out in the wild within 70 years. If it does, a main source of genetic diversity, essential in maintaining the health of the cultivated crop, will be lost.
So reports The Times today [£]. Something must be done – future generations of Tinworths will need their coffee as much as I do.
Still, it’s strangely reassuring to know that Kew has a head of coffee research…
One of the nice things about having system admin rights for the Movable Type install that powers the 150+ blogs we’re running right now is that I can see all comments as they come into the system, and guage what’s attracting attention.
Makes me think back with amusement to the days when journalists would tell me quite sincerely that nothing serious could be done on blogs…
Martin Hanczyc is working with Protocells – organic computers programmed through chemistry. Some of them have architectural features – making physical products. You can make shells, or other shapes. She’s showing a demo of what she calls very basic chemistry, as a protocell moves into ferrofluids and creates magnetites…
When they run out of chemical energy or food – they stop. They need very, very narrow environmental conditions. Living technology – contains some, bit not all, the characteristics of living systems. Examples given of pearl-like structures, which consume carbon dioxide. Beginning of a paint for buildings that would absorb CO2.
Could this lead to materials which react to their environment? Could we use it to repair atolls? Could we use it to grow an artificial reef under Venice – make it adverse to light, release it into the canals, it would flee to the foundations, and petrify the supports.
Can we recreate architecture in a way that supports the environment?